Tourists visiting Eastern Arc Mountain forests on the increase

11Jul 2019
John Ngunge
The Guardian
Tourists visiting Eastern Arc Mountain forests on the increase

THE number of tourists visiting Eastern Arc Mountain forests has been increasing on yearly basis, thanks to the conservation initiatives made by different stakeholders.

Most of the visitors are interested to view the untapped countless tourist attractions the nature forest reserves, which are rich in biodiversity.

Principal conservation officer at Chome Nature Reserve, Sosthenes Rwamugira told reporters who visited the forest reserve recently that number of tourists who visited the forest has been increasing from six in 2002 to 426, this year.

He attributed the success as a result of partnership with the Eastern Arc Mountains Conservation Environment Fund (EAMCEF) which so far has been donating 28m/- each year since 2012.

He said the money is useful for patrol, rehabilitating roads, promotion and for helping income generating projects for villagers living around the forest.

The conservator said Chome has many unique species thrives in the Eastern Arc, including over 500 plant species and 136 vertebrate species that are found nowhere else on earth of which 18 are found there.

He said apart from admiring the impressively large East African camphor trees, some reaching 30 meters high and two meters in diameter, visitors can enjoy its wilderness and biodiversity.

He pointed out a number of attractions in the reserve like excellent view of the reserve, Shengena peak which is the highest point in Pare Mountain, Mount Meru, Mkomazi National Park and Taita Hills.

Other excellent views are Kwesiga view point, Kalimawe dam, paddy irrigation scheme, forest birds, butterflies varieties and flowers, just to mention a few.

He said by visiting responsibly one can support conservation efforts and learning about the fragile eco-system, which can be protected for the future generations.

According to fund’s coordinator Margret Victor, who is based in Muheza District, the money they donate helps in patron against illegal invaders in the forests, doing rehabilitation of reserve's roads and helping nearby villagers establish some income generating projects.

Another chief conservator from Magamba Nature Forest Reserve, Getruda Nganyagwa, admitted that the number of tourists visiting the reserve has started shooting up, giving a round of applause to EAMCEF for their support as they receive about 26m/- each year since 2012.

She cited some of the visitors being German tourists and most of them are attracted by some historical features in the area as it was used by the German colonist as their base.

She said for instance at one of the high peak of the forest there is a German cave believed to be dug out in 1914 – 1918 during their rule in Tanganyika.

It is believed that the cave is used for defense and bauxite mine searching.

Talking about why they support the communities, Margret said, the purpose is to empower them economically something which would later on make them not interested to invade the forest in search for fire woods and trees for building materials.

She said through the support, the communities have now established projects like planting trees, horticulture, and cultivation of spices, wood efficient stoves and chicken keeping.